Four years ago, life was easy in Nashville.
I had just graduated with my PR degree and I was working at an adoption-focused nonprofit. As a young 20-something adoptee who always dreamt of leaving my home state of Texas, I was living the dream.
I was going to a job I loved, working with people I loved, living in a city I loved. Everything was new and thrilling and adventurous and I felt like I had the whole world in my hands.
But then my world was rocked.
I went a week hardly eating and barely sleeping. My thoughts became disjointed and irrational. My mood became unpredictable and unstable. And I wound up back in Texas with a bipolar disorder diagnosis.
And (almost) everything changed.
Life was easy last week.
I was going to two jobs I loved–nannying and working at my climbing gym–with people I love, in a city I have grown to love: Dallas. As a mid-20-something with a heart for climbing and community, I was living the dream.
But this week rocked my world.
The coronavirus has taken over quite literally the entire earth: invading bodies, terrorizing economies, parting seas of people. It has violently taken over our thoughts and feelings and actions. It has threatened our lives and well-being.
It’s changed (almost) everything.
Bipolar changed my life, but it didn’t change me.
It changed the way I approach my feelings and emotions, it changed the way I process my thoughts, it changed the way I care for others. But I have always felt things, thought things, and cared for others. And that will never change.
It changed the way I understand mental health, it changed the way I practice self-care, it changed the way I see others’ hurt. But mental health has always been important to me, I have always tried to look out for myself, and sympathy has always been a part of me. Those things will never change.
This virus may change our lives, but it won’t change us.
A lot of us are physically keeping to ourselves these days, but we are still making (virtual) connections. We are still loving others as best as we can. A lot of us are feeling fear, but fear is just an emotion that we will always feel in moments throughout our lives.
Our lives are looking a lot different this days than they have in weeks past. We are holed up in our houses and apartments. We are establishing space between us and others. We are cancelling trips, homeschooling children, streaming church services.
But our identities, our beings, our inherent selves will not change.
I do not know if that encourages you or disappoints you or instills fear in you. I do not know what you are feeling or thinking or doing right now. But there is no concrete, definite right way to feel or think right now.
We are all just trying to do the best we can do. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. And remember, we will not change.